The importance of financial transformation was at the top of the agenda at a recent BM event at Twickenham, southwest London. Equipping he modern finance function with the right tools to deliver excellence in core areas, as well as add value across the business, is a priority for any forward-thinking finance leader.
So what art leaders really doing? How are they leveraging finance's influence to sea ire their place at the head of the next phase of business evolution?
Mark Rolfe leads IBM's financial performance management sector in Europe. He presented the findings of a recent IBM survey that revealed howl finance leaders achieve their results. The challenge to these leaders are significant, particularly at a time when profit warnings are at an all-time high. Rolfe said that the situation could be partly explained by economic volatility. "It continues to plague and challenge businesses," he said. "The landscape in many industries is changing, and for finance that is compounded by regulatory change."
One of the key elements of that volatility is big data, which can be viewed as an opportunity and a threat. "It is thought of mainly as a sales and marketing tool, but finance can also benefit from the advances offered by big data and analytics," said Rolfe. "As one respondent to the survey put it, big data is different: 'These data sets are so vast, so complex and dynamic that they can't be managed by standard software, such as MS Excel.'"
For many FDs, then, the big challenge is about managing these vast amounts of data and new sources of information; indeed, a recent CIMA survey found that 84 per cent of finance professionals agreed that big data would seriously change the way they work over the next five years. And 85 per cent believe that getting a grip on big data would enhance their career prospects.
The survey also confirmed the growing consensus that we're living in an age in which businesses are much more customer-driven. There is more of a direct impact on businesses now, while lines of communication are shorter and stronger than ever.
For Paul Campion, the focus of transformation falls squarely on finance. The director of IBM's global financing business in the UK and Ireland, Campion has significant experience of IBM's transformation journey. Its finance function is dedicated to helping customers and partners meet their business-case goals for all types of transformational and IT projects.
"We had to transform things--and...